Maybe you’re ready to venture out of town, but somewhere not too far. Somewhere familiar, but with a fresh take. From nature walks to patio talks, you can experience the thrill of a weekend away in Athens while enjoying ample opportunities for fresh air and open spaces. Your ATHventure awaits just down the road.
It’s time to reclaim the “Book Now” button and create your own ATHventure.
Here are 8 great things to do in Athens:
1. Take a Hike
From short nature trails with the family to longer day hikes, Athens is sure to have a trail marker with your name on it. More than ever, families and individuals are seeking outdoor activities, and you’ll find plenty of new trails to explore in Athens. All trails at Sandy Creek Nature Center are well under a mile, even as short as ¼ mile, which is a perfect distance for children just getting started with nature walks. At the Birchmore Trail, you’ll see the “Great Wall of Athens,” with boulders put in place by hand by local legend Fred Birchmore when he was in his 70s. For those looking for more of a challenge, Sandy Creek Park offers three different trails with a combined total of more than 16 miles.
2. Explore the State Botanical Garden of Georgia
This 313-acre preserve is an oasis of calm, with beautiful gardens, five miles of trails along the Middle Oconee River, and plenty of opportunities for bird watching (it’s been named an Important Birding Area by the Georgia Audubon Society.) The Heritage Garden is a collection of plants that have been important to our region. The International Garden explores how plants were discovered and cultivated in different times and places, including the Middle Ages, Age of Exploration, and by Native Americans. Families will love the new Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, which features over two acres of interactive play for all ages.
3. Dine Outdoors
Athens is well-known for its dining scene and Athens restaurants from the most casual (Clocked, Ted’s Most Best) to the most celebrated (Five & Ten) are providing more patio space for dining al fresco. The Last Resort recently transformed its parking lot into an outdoor oasis of Adirondack chairs, a full bar, and a food truck. El Barrio, in Five Points, has an expansive lawn set up with plenty of room to dine and play yard games. College Square, across from the University of Georgia’s historic North Campus and famed Arch, has been transformed into a pedestrian and dining plaza, creating a perfect setting for people watching and a nice after-dinner stroll through the beautiful grounds of campus.
4. Stroll Along the NEW Athens Music Walk of Fame
Athens has long been known for its live music scene and music fans will have a blast walking along the new Athens Music Walk of Fame which runs past heralded music venues like the Georgia Theatre and the 40 Watt Club. The first 10 inductees were installed in September 2020 and include some household names (R.E.M., the B-52s, Widespread Panic) as well as some performers that a new generation should get to know better (Hal Johnson, Elephant 6.) A mobile app shares specific sights and sounds associated with each honoree as users come within about 20 feet of the plaque. While enjoying this great opportunity to learn more about Athens music, don’t forget to stop by one of Athens’ record shops, like Wuxtry or Low Yo Yo Stuff, to bring home some tunes from one of this year’s Walk of Fame inductees as well as some new talent.
5. Bring Your Bike
Athens is a welcoming destination for cycling and has been named a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Take a ride on the Firefly Trail, the first miles of a paved rails-to-trails project that is the northern trailhead of Georgia’s Hi Lo Trail. When complete, the Hi Lo Trail will be the longest paved multi-use trail in America, spanning 250 miles from Athens, through rural Georgia, to Savannah. Mountain bikers will enjoy Walker Park, which has more than five miles of professionally constructed trails, with features suitable for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.
6. Discover “Hidden” Murals
Athens is such a creative town that the amount of public art around every corner should come as no surprise. A favorite outdoor activity is seeking out the colorful murals that provide fun backdrops for Instagram photo opps. A few local favorites are the Hot Corner mural (located across from the Morton Theatre Downtown) and the Greetings from Athens postcard mural (located next to Classic City Cycling Downtown.) Set off on a public art ATHventure and tag #VisitAthens. You can find a full list of murals and other public art online.
7. Relax at a Beer Garden
Athens is now home to six breweries, all of which are some of the friendliest, most welcoming spots in town. The newest addition, Athentic Brewing Company, just opened in summer 2020 in Athens’ Normaltown neighborhood, and around the corner is Normaltown Brewing, which opened earlier in 2020. Akademia Brewing Company has an all-new expanded patio and Southern Brewing Company has long made use of its huge yard for gatherings and games. Even Creature Comforts in Downtown has a large and airy outdoor serving space. Of course, Terrapin Beer Co. was the first brewery in Athens and is still turning out fine drinks (temporarily offering curbside pickup only.)
8. Take a Haunted Athens Tour
Join local historian Jeff Clarke for the one-hour haunted walking tour of Athens, Hauntings and History. Jeff has appeared on several programs for the Discovery Network, The Travel Channel, and GPB/PBS. Jeff’s tours consistently receive 5-star reviews, including this one: “Jeff is an amazing storyteller. You will love this tour. We had a group, ages 14-70, and they all thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Many, many ghost stories and hauntings with historical background. This is something you must do!” These tours are not just for Halloween fun; they’re fun any time of the year!
Head to VisitAthensGA.com/ATHventure to plan your own ATHventure!